February 27th, 2010
02:13 PM ET
4 years ago

White House announces new social secretary

The White House has announced its replacement for outgoing social secretary Desiree Rogers, pictured.
The White House has announced its replacement for outgoing social secretary Desiree Rogers, pictured.

Washington (CNN) - The White House announced a new social secretary Saturday, a day after confirming that Desiree Rogers planned to step down from the position.

Julianna Smoot, who is chief of staff for the office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, will replace Rogers.

"Julianna shares our commitment to creating an inclusive, dynamic and culturally vibrant White House, and Michelle and I are pleased to have her join our team," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Rogers' office came under scrutiny in recent months after a couple who lacked an invitation were allowed into Obama's first state dinner.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Rogers said she was leaving voluntarily and that her decision was unrelated to the fallout over the security breach.

"It has nothing to do with that," she said. "It's Secret Service's job to handle security. Not the Social Secretary's office."

The president and first lady acknowledged Rogers' exit in a statement Friday that did not mention last November's party-crashing incident.

"When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the People's House," they said, "and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers.

"She organized hundreds of fun and creative events during her time here, and we will miss her. We thank her again for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

In an e-mail to CNN earlier on Friday, Rogers said, "It has been incredible setting the foundation for the [White House] for this historical presidency. Headed back to private sector."

"I accomplished initially what I came to do," Rogers told CNN later. "I like strategy. I like building something. It's built... the foundation of the [social secretary's ]office is good and solid."

Rogers did not say where she'll be working. She said she'll be "around to work on the transition" to a new social secretary at the White House.

She summed up her experiences at the White House in another note: "330 events. Halloween for 3,000. Easter egg roll for 30,000. Music series with performances and the performers teaching the students during the day. Latin, jazz, country, civil rights. "

In December, the White House was accused of stonewalling as Congress investigated the party-crasher security breach at Obama's first state dinner. At issue was whether the White House was protecting Rogers from testifying about how Tareq and Michaele Salahi were able to crash the first White House state dinner. The couple did not have an invite but were allowed in.

Rogers' office planned the dinner.

At the time, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said his agency would take the heat for the incident.

"This is our fault and our fault alone," he told federal lawmakers. "There's no other people to blame here. ... Look at me and blame me," he told members of the House Homeland Security Committee.

– CNN's Ed Henry, Suzanne Malveaux and John King contributed to this report.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. leonardofru

    I wonder if she, as her predecessor, has a desire to remove all vestiges of Christian symbolism from White House Christmas decorations. This is a strange and radical group of people occupying the White House.

    February 27, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Minnesota gal

    She is perfectly correct. It is the secret service's job to screen and stop intruders. The social secretary has nothing to do with that.

    February 27, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Rick

    Our deep recession hasn't deterred the administration from making prudent and responsible spending decisions. Did you know the administration has hired an unprecedented number of staffers to cater to Michelle's every whim. We're unemployed and in need of leadership and hope for an improved economy and they are building the next Monarchy. She is the "Entitled One".

    Just to compare let's look at the total Personal Staff members for other first ladies paid by taxpayers:

    Mamie Eisenhower: One– paid for personally out of President's salary.
    Jackie Kennedy: One
    Roseline Carter: One
    Barbara Bush: One
    Hilary Clinton: Three
    Laura Bush: One
    Michele Obama: Twenty-two

    My, how things have changed!

    Michele Obama's personal staff:

    One.. $172,200 – Sher, Susan (Chief Of Staff)
    Two.. $140,000 – Frye, Jocelyn C. (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy And Projects For The First Lady)
    Three.. $113,000 – Rogers, Desiree G. (Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary for Mrs. Obama)
    Four.. $102,000 – Johnston, Camille Y. (Special Assistant to the President
    and Director of Communications for the First Lady)
    Five.. $100,000 – Winter, Melissa (Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
    Six.. $90,000 Medina , David S. (Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
    Seven.. $84,000 – Lilyveld, Catherine M. (Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady)
    Eight.. $75,000 – Starkey, Frances M. (Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady)
    Nine.. $70,000 – Sanders, Trooper (Deputy Director of Policy and Project for the First Lady)
    Ten.. $65,000 – Burnough, Erinn (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
    Eleven.. $64,000 – Reinstein, Joseph B.(Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
    Twelve.. $62,000 – Goodman, Jennifer R. (Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events Coordinator For The First Lady)
    Thirteen.. $60,000 Fitz, Alan O.(Deputy Director of Advance and Trip Director
    for the First Lady)
    Fourteen.. $57,500 – Lewis, Dana M. (Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady)
    Fifteen... $52,500 – Mustaphi, Semonti M. (Associate Director and Deputy Press Secretary To The First Lady)
    Sixteen.. $50,000 – Jarvis, Kristen E. (Special Assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide To The First Lady)
    Seventeen.. $45,000 – Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (Associate Director of Correspondence For The First Lady)
    Eighteen.. $43,000 – Tubman, Samanth a (Deputy Associate Director, Social Office)
    Nineteen. $40,000 – Boswell, Joseph J. (Executive Assistant to the Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
    Twenty.. $36,000 – Armbruster, Sally M. (Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary)
    Twenty-One... $35,000 – Bookey, Natalie (Staff Assistant)
    Twenty-Two.. $35,000 – Jackson, Deilia A. (Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)
    (total $1,591,200 in annual salaries)

    Socialists idea of job creation. There has NEVER been anyone in the White House at any time who has created such an army of staffers whose sole duties are the facilitation of the First Lady's social life.

    February 27, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Tracy

    Desiree Rogers was too busy putting herself on the guest list, instead of doing her job. Yes, the Secret Service utlimately was responsible, but so was this bimbo. I guess that's what happens when you go to work for friends in high places.

    February 27, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. fhwilson199

    eliminate the job as a cost cutting measure.
    obama never met a government he could resisit expanding.

    if it must be filled have mighty michelle do it.
    is she the white house first lady.

    February 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. really livin

    This has nothing to do with the party crashers, My guess is the decision was made by a jealous Mischelle O'Bama. Remember Bill and Monica. Sure did'nt want a Barrack and Desiree and a spot on a secretary dress. You know those party planners.

    February 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. JOE

    GOOD...Another one bites the dirt.....

    February 27, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. LT. ROBERT

    WHAT A MESS

    February 27, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Big Joe

    I wonder if BHO will call this person the "White House Social Czar"?

    Barack Insane Obama said he would be focus like a laser on jobs and the economy. He has a terrible case of ADD.

    Jimmy Carter all over again.

    February 27, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. c spurgeon

    Goodbye. I hope the new one is serious and not a prima dona.

    February 27, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. John

    Bye Bye moron.

    February 27, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. How To Tell A Dem Is Lying-Lips Are Moving

    Well I guess NObama has hand picked another of his Chicago cronies and rewarded them with a job.What is a community organizer anyway?O well,at least he did create 1 job.Now I believe the 1st Lady has the largest staff in the history of the WH,and her husband said we need to curtail spending.

    February 27, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Texas Jack

    Natother OBAMA's prodigy's. How many of these people do we the tax payers have to foot the salary on. They know how to do nothing and intend to do nothing. Get rid of Erkel now.

    February 27, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Another example of why hiring your social and political buddies is a significant error of judgment for a chief executive who should look for the best and brightest in the business of governing rather than campaigning and schmoozing. This fallow fellow's incompetence is becoming more evident sooner than any of his starry-eyed adorers could have expected.

    February 27, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. jules sand-perkins

    Yesterday in this forum, a discussion of Ms. Rogers's leaving her position deteriorated into a tempest of racist insults unrelated to the event.
    As a young white man from Mississippi, I became active in the civil rights movement in 1957 after moving to Chicago. I was deeply disappointed yesterday to see that, decades later, it seems that we have moved backward rather than forward in our understanding of, and respect for, those whose race differs from our own.
    The hatred yesterday came from both sides, African- American and white.
    I am now an old white man: that description of a person is frequently used today as an favorite racial slur.
    At the beginning of the civil rights movement, nobody thought it would be this way in 2010.
    Please–let's stop hating each other.

    February 27, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Sue

    Rogers thought that she was given this position/salary to be a party girl.

    She didn't think that she was actually supposed to work/earn her paycheck for doing a job.

    The majority knows that she did not 'resign' voluntarily, she was asked to "resign".

    However, I do not think that it was just because of the party blunder. I think that something else was going to surface about her--or Obama and the Democrats feared that it would surface--so they asked her to "resign".

    February 27, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. Grace

    Desiree Rogers will always be known as the official responsible for the party crashers. It is her job to work with the Secret Service to insure that only those who are on the list get through. It is obvious that others were encouraged to take the heat-the statement "Look at me" by the Secret Service Director makes that obvious. Obama is putting unqualified friends in government positions, and that is a danger to him

    February 27, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Elliott Carlin

    I'm disappointed Chairman Obama did not appoint a committee to study selections for this high-profile replacement.

    Potential Committee Members:

    Craig Livingstone (we still don't know who in the Clinton admin hired him)
    Marguerite Ann Johnson (that's Maya Angelou for you in the MSM)
    Ann Lewis (Mao apologist)
    Van Jones (all things communist apologist)
    Jocelyn Elders (sure to give some wise counsel)

    I'd include Bill Ayers, but he'd probably implode the whole idea.

    Libs are such wonderful people

    LOL

    February 27, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. Can't Wait Til November

    Rogers couldn't resist throwing somebody else (secret service) under the bus on her way out the door. Of course it wasn't her fault. She's a Dim...

    February 27, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. james

    More of that change in how Washingotn does business, eh Barry? Hire the ultimate insider. Good work, Barry. Way to make that change.

    February 27, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Well, at least we know Desiree does not agree....

    with Obama's socialist agenda...she's leaving for the corporate world to make the big bucks....

    February 27, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. B

    It is about time isn’t it ?...

    February 27, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. Mike

    Has she paid her taxes?

    February 27, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. Mike

    Now she can testify about party crashing because there is no longer a conflict, except with Democrats calling out their own.

    February 27, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. mary hue

    I think you brought grace, style and knowledge to the WH. You did your job honorably, you were an example of what it takes to stay cool humble and still enjoy your position. Thank you for your service and good luck with your next adventure.

    February 27, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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